Soundtrack To Article: Mr Fix It – Ocean Wisdom, Big Talk Vol.1
Written By Chris Kelly & Photo’s by Will Nehra
Amsterdam has felt quiet recently. The inertia of city life has returned after being blown out of existence by the messiness of ADE. Roadworks and repair have descended on Spui, Leidseplien and Centraal to repair the underbelly of the city before the swarms of tourists arrive for Christmas. I was quite ready to begin grieving the passing of ADE and Deckmantel and begin my yearly hip-hop hibernation till the summer banger’s arrive in early 2020. That was until Mr fix himself touched down in the city of the damned to skid, skrrt, and reverse us back into the grungy smoke filled raves we so desperately didn’t want to leave. One last skank before Sinterklaas’s arrival sends us packing to our families with a crumpled up, bitter tasting water bottle in hand.
I think it may be helpful to get this statement out the way first: Ocean Wisdom’s antics on the Melkweg stage during the evening of November 21st was the single greatest performance by a UK MC on a Dutch stage that i have ever been party too. The venue was Melkweg’s second room, a point Wizzy was quick to comment on when predicting that his next performance would be in the adjacent ballroom.
Whilst Ocean is understandably hungry to move into Melkweg’s famed ‘Room 1’, i personally wish that he would always perform in the ramshackle ruckus of room 2. The space is so small that when dancing to Lil John, one is already simultaneously at the windows and the walls. This particular night, as goes without saying, sweat was profusely dripping down ones balls.
The opening act was local Dutch duo Mensa, a energetic and welcome addition to the Big Talk Vol.1 tour card. They gave a performance that i’m certain they were incredibly proud of. A juxtaposing contrast between Dutch Hip Hop and UK Hip Hop can, to my ear, often be too different to generate a cohesive transition between opening act and headliner. Therefore, Mensa’s ability to captivate and compel a room full of UK hip hop and garage fans to stray away from the bar and smoking area is an achievement worth commending. With a quick interlude from Oceans partner in grime and hype man …., the lights were dark and the blood pressure popping hook of “Blessed” began to rattle the dust from the lighting rigs above.
It was confined chaos and Ocean Wisdom was its conductor. To anyone who hears Ocean wisdom, it is obvious that he uses his voice as an instrument. His pitch, cadence and flow do not sit on top of the beat but rather ride along it as a integral component of his melody and as a method of building anticipation in preparation for his beat drops. This effect is savage and gassed enough when heard through headphones but to watch him do it live is a different art form all together. “Mr Fix It” was a personal highlight as it remains my favorite song on the latest album, an opinion Ocean seems to resonate with as he shared his thoughts on its place among the rest of the tunes, stating “This is my favorite beat i’ve ever worked on, my boy…. absolutely killed it on this one, run the riddim”.
During many points in the performance his a cappella’s engendered an equal if not more beloved response from his bewitched fans than some of his classic beat drops. Think about that statement for a second, in a genre that is quickly and unabashedly criticized for not being as entertaining live as in our headphones, this guy is cutting the beat and rapping double time, a cappella , to a Dutch audience for minutes on end. It was flawlessly executed, impeccably created and meticulously rehearsed and honed. The beautiful thing is that he absolutely knows what hes doing is unadulterated originality, quite frankly he gifted in oratory, lyricism and entertainment in equal measures.
Yet even with all the countless hours of practice Ocean Wisdom must have put into mastering his craft, not a single part of his performance seemed rehearsed. It felt like i had gone back in time to an old LOTM clash were the effortlessness of MC’ing, not only in a lyrical sense but also the crucial element of performance, was embodied in abundance. It seemed as if he just woke up, wacked on his Lakers jersey, bunned a zoot in The Dolphin and walked over the road. In fact he admitted that’s exactly what had happened, proclaiming one of the most memorable artist-/crowd interactions, ‘can we get a round of applause for smoking so much weed and still being able to do this show’.
That night he was the Orchestrator of the atmosphere, he conducted the emotions of the crowd by perfectly treading the thin line between overloading on new material and respecting the records that got him there. High Focus tunes were expertly woven with his new body of work, fulfilling the expectations of new and old fans alike. My only grievance with his set was the omission of “Tom & Jerry”, and the fact that all Tour merch was sold out before this final show. That being said, bunning a zoot on the Melkweg dance floor while Wizzy shelled down his verse to ‘Revinn’ was nothing short of an outer body experience and the fulfillment of a bucket list experience that i was blissfully unaware that i needed. A cloud of smoke bellowed above the sea of snap backs between me and the stage, a plume rising from every corner of the black box room. It was hedonistic, dutty, emotional, lucid and everything in between. Respect to man like Ocean wisdom, he shoved a firecracker up the metaphorical ass of a city ready to go to sleep for winter. We are all awake and listening now Mr Wisdom.